Yellow taxicabs are practically our mascots in New York City, and they’ve been made famous with supporting roles in many Hollywood movies—even a Scorsese movie title. But sometimes, these mascots “attack.”
Recently, Jim Burns, the co-creator of MTV Unplugged, was struck by a taxi as he crossed Fifth Avenue. He suffered a head injury and died two days later. Earlier in 2017, a two-car yellow cab crash at 85th Street and Second Avenue put three outdoor diners in the hospital. Not a month later, a New York Water Taxi collided with Pier 79 in Hell’s Kitchen, injuring over 30 passengers. Not quite the same, but still notable.
Taxis are all around us in the City. But how safe are they, really?
HOW SAFE ARE NEW YORK TAXIS?
Only a few weeks ago, ABC 7 published the results of an investigation into for-hire vehicle safety. It revealed that passengers in NYC have a one-in-five chance of hailing a ride with a serious, uncorrected defect—as in, a vehicle or part that was recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Around 130,000 taxicabs and rideshare vehicles currently share these defects, but ABC 7 found that recall compliance rates were much lower for taxicabs.
Christopher Basso, a public relations manager at Carfax, which helped conduct the investigation, said: “These are safety-related issues, things that can cause fires, crashes, exploding airbags, real safety concerns that not only impact the passengers of those vehicles but anyone else on the road, as well.”
Among the defects that have been recalled are “sticky” accelerators, doors that can’t lock, steering wheels that lock up, exploding Takata airbags, and more.
HOW DOES NEW YORK CITY REGULATE TAXIS?
All for-hire vehicles are given three inspections a year by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), and yellow cabs specifically checked out at a facility in Queens. But TLC does not require taxi drivers to correct recalls to pass inspections and pick up passengers. They say the amount of recalls makes this too difficult to do, at present, but they are “actively working” to develop a more streamlined system.
ABC 7 quoted Meera Joshi, chair of TLC, as saying: “The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recalls are all considered safety recalls, but some of them are a high priority and some are a much lower priority. These people’s livelihood is driving professionally. So, if we are going to say you can’t drive because you haven’t met a recall, we need to make sure it’s a high-priority recall.”
The NHTSA requires manufacturers to fix recalls at no cost, and most repairs take less than a day to complete. This seems like an easy and inexpensive fix…some taxi drivers appear to be putting money ahead of their passengers’ lives.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU’RE HIT BY A TAXI?
Before doing anything else, make sure you call 911 and get medical attention. If you’re hit by a taxi, that driver is legally required to stay at the scene and give you his company information. (That doesn’t mean all taxi driver will do this, so be proactive and insist.) Gather all the details you can and take photos, because these will be very important later, when you file a civil claim against the taxi company for your injuries and damages.
Yellow cabs in NYC are required to have a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance coverage. Even if the taxi is judged “not at fault,” many cab companies also carry no-fault insurance coverage that may apply to your situation. However, many critics say this isn’t enough…and that the TLC and state legislature need to raise the minimum. CBS2 quoted Sian Green-Lord, a British citizen who was hit while touring New York in 2013: “I was hit by a taxi. I lost my leg. My medical costs for now, my limbs, are a lot of money, and I have to pay for that, which I don’t think is fair. And the payout that I’m probably going to get now will not even cover that a tiny bit.”
If you were hit by a taxi, we strongly recommend you get a New York City car accident attorney right away. The Case Handler team at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP has a proven track record of success for injured clients like you, so call us for a no-cost consultation today, at 929-223-4195.